How to Write When You Don’t Want to Write

How to Write When You Don't Want to Write

Not gonna lie: I didn’t want to write this post. But here it is anyways.

Lacking the will to write is common to one of two possible sources. The first source is a dreaded assignment (aka something you have to write because there is a deadline and consequences that you don’t want to face). Writing assignments start at school and will continue for the rest of your life in the form of emails and other written works.

Boo. Lots of assignments are cool, and you will want to write some of them. But lots of assignments are lame, and you have to write them unless you’re ready to face the consequences.

The second source is when you used to want to write, but have since stopped caring about your writing. Maybe you were working on a novel, maybe you were working on a blog, maybe you were journaling but now… you just don’t want to.

How to write assignments when you don’t want to: discipline

Whether it’s a freelance assignment, a paper for that class you hate, or an email about something or other, you gotta write it.

Not wanting to write is a head game. Nothing more, nothing less. You can either discipline yourself into doing it anyway, or you can change the way you’re thinking about it to make yourself want to do it.

Here are some ideas on how to discipline yourself write.

  • Schedule it in. Set aside a chunk of time to write in. Protect that time (even though you don’t want to). Maybe schedule something awesome to look forward to at the end (but you only get to do it if you did the writing).
  • Create an incentive for yourself. If you write X pages, you get to eat X chocolates. For every 2 hours of writing, you get 30 minutes of gaming. If you finish the paper by X, you get to do Y. Make sure you only reward yourself for completing the task, or else you’re just wasting your own time.
  • Focus. Once you’ve sat down to do the writing, don’t just sit before an empty document bemoaning the fact that you have to write this. Focus on the writing itself. Write off your inner editor and just vomit words onto the page. You can decide if it’s worth polishing later.
  • Take breaks. Some people can decide to sit down and not get up until the paper is written. I’m not one of them, so I have to get up at least once an hour to walk around, drink some water, have a snack, or something like that. Incorporate your incentives with your breaks for maximum benefits!
  • Don’t obsess over the consequences or how much you don’t want to write it. If you’re trying to write and all you can think is “I don’t want to be doing this” or “I have to do this or else XYZ,” then you need to focus. Those thoughts can spur you on to write some more, but if they’re keeping you from writing, write them off.
  • Choose your writing space wisely. Don’t sit down to write something you don’t want to write in the living room where all of your roommates are playing Smash Bros. Find a space that will make you more likely to write.

The thing about writing assignments when you don’t want to write them is that you can negotiate yourself into a corner. You have to write the assignment. The consequences are greater than the pain of vomiting words that you don’t care about onto the page.

That does assume that the consequences are greater than the pain. Sometimes they’re not greater. You then have to choose whether you are going to take the path of discipline, and do the above anyway, or otherwise ignore the writing.

Do your future self a favor. Just write it now. Or at least write a paragraph now.

How to write when you no longer care about your writing: mindset

No matter why you don’t want to write, doing the writing will come down to discipline or to changing the way you’re thinking. You can discipline yourself into writing your novel/blog post/journal. And that’s not a bad place to start—even with assignments.

But ultimately, you can save yourself some hard work by making yourself want to write instead of fighting through your un-wanting to write. So go ahead and implement all of the disciplinary suggestions above. And then also work on your mindset.

  • Why exactly don’t you want to write? Try to put it into words. Are you worried about who will/won’t read it? Are you frustrated because it seems meaningless? Are you bored?
  • Why do you want to write? If there is something that you are interested in writing, try to articulate why you want to write that and not this. With personal projects, you can usually just drop whatever you had been working on and start a new project. You can always come back to the old project later.
  • What is the truth of the matter? I sometimes get caught in not wanting to write because no one will read what I’m writing. The truth of the matter is that I don’t want to write for other people. I write for me. Try to define what the truth of the matter is for you.
  • Be encouraging aka think positive. Sometimes I have to speak positively even if I don’t believe it. Because the more positively you speak, the more positively you think. And since not wanting to write is a mind game, you can trick yourself out of it by choosing to be encouraging towards yourself and your writing.

Writing is important. Assignments have their importance and personal writing has its importance. For most of us, assignments have only temporary, circumstantial importance. Personal writing has far-reaching, individual importance and must be fought for and protected because of the unseen impact it has on you.

And even if your personal writing comes a day, a week, a year late, you still wrote it, and it still impacts you. And the impact it has on you has the chance to impact all sorts of people around you.

Stop procrastinating and get back to writing, you clever wordsmith. I know you probably have better things to do, but hey, make a disciplined effort to change your mind and get to it.

What do you think? Is not wanting to write a mind game? How do you write anyways? Share in the comments!

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